Who Is Jessie Mei Li? Everything About Shadow and Bone Breakout Star You Don’t Know
Jessie Mei Li's name is once again on everyone's minds for good reason; she is the star of the popular Netflix series "Shadow and Bone," which is set to release its second season on March 2023.
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Jessie Mei Li's name is once again on everyone's minds for good reason; she is the star of the popular Netflix series "Shadow and Bone," which is set to release its second season on March 2023. The show is based on a series of books from author Leigh Bardugo, which discuss friendship, sexuality, and race. Li plays the character of Alina Starkov, a "sun summoner" who is said to be one of the most powerful figures alive.
#1. Who is Jessica Mei Li?
Source: Pop Sugar
Jessica Mei Li is an English actress. She is best known for her role as Alina Starkov in the Netflix fantasy series Shadow and Bone.
#2. Jessica Mei Li early life and education
Li was born in Brighton, East Sussex to an English mother and a Chinese father who was raised in Hong Kong. She grew up in Redhill, Surrey and has an older brother. Li attended Reigate College from 2010 to 2012 and began studying French and Spanish at the University of Sussex, but eventually dropped out. For nearly two years, Li worked as a teaching assistant for children with special needs at secondary school. Li joined the National Youth Theatre in 2015 and trained part-time at Identity School of Acting from 2016 to 2017.
#3. Jessica Mei Li career
Li made her professional stage debut in February 2019 playing the role of Claudia Casswell in All About Eve at Noel Coward Theatre, directed and adapted for the stage by Ivo van Hove, alongside Gillian Anderson and Lily James. In October 2019, it was announced Li would star in the lead role of Alina Starkov in the 2021 Netflix series Shadow and Bone, an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse fantasy book series Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows.
Li initially had reservations about auditioning for the character of Alina Starkov, whose ethnicity was changed from white to mixed race for the show, citing concerns about whether the change was being made due to a diversity quota. However, during the audition process, Li observed that the change in Starkov's ethnicity "wasn't just a diversity box ticker" and "was something to help build the world and to help build her character." Li appears as Lara Chung in Edgar Wright's 2021 film Last Night in Soho.
Related: Everything Cast and Character in Shadow and Bone Season 2: Updated Information
#4. Jessica Mei Li’s personal life
Li was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult Li has spoken on growing up with a lack of positive East Asian and biracial representation onscreen. Her conflict over her dual heritage was compounded when she began auditioning, where they noticed mixed-race roles would sometimes go to fully East Asian or white actors. In an April 2021 interview, Li emphasized the importance of nuanced portrayals of East Asians in media. Li is queer and identifies as a gender-nonconforming person, yet considers herself female.
#5. Jessie Mei Li as a cast in Shadow and Bone
In a new interview with Evening Standard, Li admitted that she was originally concerned that her casting, which differs from the fact that her character is white in Bardugo's book series, was just a diversity quota. However, now she respects the show's decision to challenge stereotypes of Asian characters through Alina, as well as others like Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy) and Tolya (Lewis Tan). "Anna is playing this super-cool, badass character and then you've got Lewis who is macho. It's nice to have Asian stereotypes challenged," she told the outlet.
Since "Shadow and Bone"'s first season, Li has transformed into a breakout star. And thanks to her newfound success, we've learned even more about her. Read on to discover all there is to know about the rising actor.
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